Discover your future as a young rural change maker

7 Oct 2020

Rural young people are being encouraged to sign up for the Young Rural Change Makers Programme, focused on leadership and enterprise skills, being, run by the Rural Youth Project. 

The five-week, participative training initiative has been designed to support young people to build their confidence, develop new skills and be part of a network to help them thrive in their own rural area.

Starting on Friday 16 October, and running every Friday thereafter, the programme will be delivered by external trainers in a series of masterclasses with experts in leadership, community building, enterprise and communications and will include vital one-to-one support for young people.

Rural Youth Project Director, Rebecca Dawes said, “From our experience, young people in rural areas are incredibly resilient, and are full of creative and inspiring ideas. The challenge that many of them face is having the confidence to turn their idea into a reality and knowing where to start their journey.

“Whether it is a community project, commercial business or social enterprise, this programme will give young people the time to learn from each other, build their network and benefit from the expertise of the coaches who have been at the forefront of rural life working with Growbiz, Smart Village Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Rural Action and Jane Craigie Marketing to name just five organisations.”

It is estimated that due to the current pandemic, young people will be the hardest hit with career paths abruptly disrupted; this programme aims to tackle this concern head-on Ms Dawes adds.

Luke Taylor from West Lothian launched his own podcast to share experiences with countryside rangers across the world, after attending a Rural Youth Project workshop.

“The Young Rural Change Makers Programme offers the opportunity to reassess your future, in my case as a seasonal worker, and offers the support and skills that you need to make your own idea come true, without limitations or restriction,” explained Luke.

The Rural Youth Project hopes to unite youngsters who complete the programme in 2021 at a free event, to celebrate their ‘graduation’ and further their networking opportunities, if Covid-19 restrictions allow.

The Young Rural Change Maker’s Programme is free to any young rural person between 18 and 28 years of age, thanks to funding from the LEADER Programme 2014-2020: The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas. Five LEADER LAG areas – Angus, Lanarkshire, Outer Hebrides, Rural Perth and Kinross, and the Scottish Borders have come together to fund the project. Priority places will be given to individuals from these areas, however, this should not stop anyone from applying, as spaces may be available for youngsters out with these areas.

Applications can be submitted here and anyone interested can contact the Rural Youth Project with any questions at

Programme Timetable:

  • Welcome/ Leadership Workshop – 16 October 9:30am till 12:30pm
  • Community Building Workshop – 23 October – 9:30am – 11:30am
  • Optional Ideas Café – 28 October – 6:30pm – 7:30pm
  • Enterprise workshop – 30 October – 9:30am – 11:30am
  • Communications Workshop – 06 November – 9:30am – 11:30am
  • Graduation/Final Workshop (face-to-face, if possible) – Jan/ Feb 2021 – 9:30am – 11:30am


About the Rural Youth Project and LEADER fund:

The Rural Youth Project was founded in 2018 by Jane Craigie and Rebecca Dawes of Jane Craigie Marketing. Launched to ‘plug the knowledge gap’ about the rural youth (18 to 28 years of age) in Scotland and other countries in the UK and around the world, the project commenced with an online survey completed by 755 young people. It has also engaged with 20 young people who are sharing their story by video logs, hosted an Ideas Festival for 80 young people in 2018, held a parliamentary reception at Holyrood, delivered presentations at over 30 events including internationally and organised a learning journey to the Netherlands to look at the Urban-Rural relationship.

The new LEADER, (‘Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l’Économie Rurale’), Rural Development programme for Perth and Kinross was launched on Thursday 14 January 2016.

Approximately £3.8 million of EU and Scottish Government SRDP (Scottish Rural Development Programme) funding is being invested in the local area between 2014 and 2020, bringing a boost to communities and the rural economy.

The funding will be directed towards the priorities identified in the Rural Perth and Kinross LEADER Programme Development Strategy and Business Plan, with the aim of helping to create a long-term legacy of vibrant, healthy and inclusive rural communities.  The priorities include Community Capacity Building, Rural Broadband, Youth Initiatives, Farm Diversification, Rural Enterprise and there are Open Challenge and Co-operation Projects Funds also.